As I mentioned in my last post regarding organization, I wanted to give you a clear sense of how I/we do things here, before I continue to entertain you with all of the things that go wrong here. 🙂 In the last post, I shared some of the techniques that we use to keep a handle on the potential mess and disorder. This time around, I’ll share some of the aspects of our routine that help to keep things running smoothly.
And next time, I’ll share the chaos to keep it real. Because no matter how hard you work, those of you who parent numerous kids know that there are inevitably days where THIS ends up happening….
But on an optimistic note; once again, in no particular order, here is a tidy little list of the methods I use to keep myself sane….
1. Reward (Pebble) Jar: In terms of behavior, I find it easier to acknowledge or reward finding “good” behavior rather than having to punish negative behaviors. I keep a reward jar on the kitchen windowsill, and each time one of the kids is found doing something either kind or helpful, a pebble is tossed into the jar. When the pebble level reaches the marked line on the jar, we have a group reward of some kind; ie. an ice cream party, bowling trip, etc.
Consequently, pebbles are removed from the jar when a negative behavior occurs. Not every single behavior (good or bad) is addressed by the jar, but it really helps to keep them upbeat and cooperative!
Recent Reward: Ice Cream Party!
2. Compliment Cards: This was created because amongst my older three, there was a lot of obnoxious comments and attitudes that were developing with each other. I decided to get them into the habit of saying something nice about each other, even if they were FORCED to, because, after all, I am the boss.
So I bought a pack of index cards and a sticker book.
(From Dollar Tree. Can I tell you how much I LOVE Dollar Tree??)
And (almost) everyday after school, waiting next to their snack is a pen and an index card with some else’s name on it. (And COINCIDENTALLY, it is often the name of the very person that so-and-so was fighting with that day; go figure, huh?). While they’re eating snack, they write down something nice or positive about the other person. Then the cards are put into each person’s mailbox (mentioned later), and read at the dinner table before we begin eating.
3. Mailboxes: Not really a big deal, but a place to keep not only their past compliment cards if they choose (and who doesn’t need an ego boost now & then?, but also any of those random, tiny objects of theirs that I might find in my travels, i.e. Lego Men, bracelets, rings, etc.
4. Journals: I am going to blame my education for this one, because obviously, I love to write. And to read. So consequently, my children must suffer because of my passions! I started this a few summers ago, in an attempt to keep the kids focused on their budding writing skills. Every other day I’d have them pull out their journals and write a response to a random question I’d ask.
My questions vary; anything from “What do you think is the best part about being a kid?” to “Tell me what your worst day was.” They write for 10 minutes, and can draw a picture. I make sure that I write a note in response, so that the next time they pull out their journals, they have communication from me.
I love the journaling for several reasons:
- It helps them to articulate their thoughts in writing
- It practices their mechanics (penmanship, grammar, etc.)
- It helps them to apply critical thinking on paper, which I think is important
- It gives me a deeper insight sometimes into what/how they think
- It’s a fun memory-builder!
5. Meal Planning: I wish I was the type that could cook in bulk and freeze, but although it’s a great method, I’ve never mastered it. Instead, I’ve been using a meal planning schedule, which is based on a great recipe software program I found years ago called Living Cookbook. (Note: I’m not being paid to mention them. But in case you were wondering what it was called, there it is. 🙂
Over time, I’ve added recipes that I’ve liked to the database, along with new ones that I try and like from websites like www.food.com, or www.allrecipes.com.
Two main reasons that I like having my recipes organized on the computer:
- I can create a weekly meal plan.
- It helps me to save money on groceries by planning ahead based on sales.
- I can keep the recipe open on my laptop on the counter as I cook.
I plan my meals out for the week ahead based on the groceries that I buy on sale. So if chicken breasts are on sale that week, I make sure to include a few chicken dishes. I plan out the week’s dinners and print out my menu, which I keep pinned to my kitchen bulletin board.
(Sorry for the grainy picture; the recipes are stored on my old Netbook- small and old!)
Not only does planning out the week save us money in terms of groceries, but it also makes it easier for me to know in advance what I’m making. And I love having my recipes handy right on the counter as I’m cooking.
Now we’re cookin’!….
Speaking of recipes, I’ve gotten a few questions asking about what type of meals we eat; in response, (with the expert assistance of The Captain!) I’ve added a recipe section to the blog! I will post some of our meal faves up there, as well as my usual blend of quirkiness and humor. 🙂 So go and check out My Hectic Kitchen
So there you go; just a few more ways that I try and preserve the sanity quotient in this thing called parenthood. And as I’ve previously mentioned, no matter how carefully you plan, organize, and arrange, there are still those days that go like this:
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